Raw milk produced by Organic Pastures of Fresno County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer.
Under the recall, all Organic Pastures whole and skim raw milk is to be pulled immediately from retail shelves and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators. Until further notice, Organic Pastures may not produce raw milk for the retail market. The order also affects Organic Pastures raw cream and raw colostrum.
The quarantine order came following a report that raw milk caused bacterial illness in a 10-year old girl in San Bernardino County. An investigation by the California Department of Health Services detected two additional bacterial illnesses in children consuming raw milk, one a 7-year old Riverside County boy, and the other an 8-year old San Diego County girl.
Doctors treating the children have identified the bacteria as E. coli 0157:H7. While laboratory samples of Organic Pastures raw milk have not detected E. coli 0157:H7 contamination, epidemiologic data collected by the Department of Health Services points to a link with Organic Pastures raw milk. Additional laboratory samples of Organic Pastures raw milk are pending.
It is not believed there is any connection with the recent E. coli 0157:H7 contamination in fresh spinach. Typing of lab samples from one of the children shows a different strain than the one found in the spinach outbreak.
Of the three afflicted children, one has been hospitalized and released. The other two remain hospitalized.
The great majority of milk consumed in California is pasteurized. Raw milk is not. Pasteurization eliminates the risk of bacterial illness.
E. coli infection often causes abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. There is usually little or no fever, and the illness typically resolves itself in five to ten days. A small percentage of infected individuals also develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed and kidney failure may occur. Those most at risk for serious complications of this food-borne illness include young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Consumers should seek immediate medical care if they develop these symptoms.